Saturday, 25 March 2017

Nicolaes Berchem’s etching, “The Resting Herd”, c.1652


Nicolaes Berchem (aka Nicolaes Pietersz Berchem; Niclas Berghem; Claes Berighem; Nicolaes Pietersz Berrighem) (1621/22–1683)
“The Resting Herd” (Le troupeau en repos), c.1652, from a series of five related plates featuring animals

Etching on fine laid paper trimmed at the platemark and lined on a conservator’s support sheet.
Size: (sheet) 26.5 x 21.2 cm
Signed in top right corner: "Berghem fe."
Numbered in the lower right corner: "3" (signifying the third plate in the series of five.)
State iii (of iii [?])

Hollstein 10.III (F W H Hollstein 1949, “Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings and woodcuts c.1450-1700”, Amsterdam); Weigel 1843 297.10 (Rudolph Weigel 1843, “Suppléments au Peintre-Graveur de Adam Bartsch, Vol.I”, Leipzig); Dutuit 1881-5 I.36.10 (Manuel E Dutuit, “de l'Amateur d'Estampes”, 4 vols, Paris); Bartsch V.260.10 (Adam Bartsch 1803, ”Le Peintre graveur”, 21 vols, Vienna); TIB 7(5).10 (260) (Walter L Strauss 1978, “The Illustrated Bartsch: Nretherlandish Artists”, vol. 5. p.55)

The British Museum offers the following description of this print:
“Plate 3: The Resting Herd. A herd of different animals (one cow, a horse, a donkey, three goats and three sheep) resting, a shepherd leaning on a stick to the left, trees and a wide landscape in the background; from a series of five prints showing animals Etching” (http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1662222&partId=1&searchText=Berchem+&page=7)

Condition: crisp impression trimmed to the platemark and laid onto a conservator’s support sheet. The sheet is in excellent condition but I can see a few dot-size holes that are virtually invisible because the sheet is laid onto washi paper.

I am selling what is arguably Berchem’s masterpiece of etching—or at least one of his masterworks—for the total cost of AU$214 (currently US$162.97/EUR150.85/GBP130.45 at the time of posting this listing) including postage and handling to anywhere in the world.
If you are interested in purchasing this truly magnificent print that lends an impression of grand scale to what is essentially a simple scene of rural life in the 17th century, please contact me (oz_jim@printsandprinciples.com) and I will send you a PayPal invoice to make the payment easy.

This print has been sold


To my eyes, Berchem’s prints embody a spirit of grandeur even when the subject is a simple rural scene like this one. In part, this grandeur—a notion which I will hesitantly define as a sense of bigness, in terms of scale, and objective formality—is related to the way in which Berchem composes his images. Essentially, Berchem’s compositions are designed to create the illusion of voluminous space where the portrayed subjects—in this scene: a mule, a horse, a cow, sheep, goats and a herdsman—have abundant room to move. 

The notion of grandeur also stems from the almost generic/classical way that Berchem represents his featured subjects. For instance, when he represents a mule, he ensures that the point of focus is on the mule’s large ears, or when he wishes to represent a horse he ensures that the focus is on its head and its mane. Following in this same selective process of focusing on key attributes, when Bechem rendered the cow in this remarkable scene of animal abundance, the focus is on its eyes—I personally love cow’s eyes so this choice of attribute makes complete sense to me. In short, Berchem portrays his subject matter with the aim of showcasing broad ideals about the forms represented so that trees and their foliage may not be about a particular tree but the essence of trees—the “treeness” of trees (to borrow a dollop of Platonism). 






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